4.21.2022

Ohio Doctor Acquitted, Sri Lanka, and Focus Music Everything you need to know for today in five minutes.

Good morning. It's Thursday, April 21, and we're covering what may be a final stand in Mariupol, an acquittal in a high-profile medical case, and much more. Have feedback? Let us know at [email protected].

NEED TO KNOW

 

Azovstal Under Fire

Russian forces narrowed in on the remaining Ukrainian forces in Mariupol yesterday, reportedly dropping numerous bunker-busting munitions on a massive steel plant believed to be the last pocket of resistance in the southern port city. Officials said the attacks prevented the establishment of an evacuation corridor.

 

At least 1,000 civilians are believed to have taken refuge inside the Azovstal steel complex, along with Ukrainian forces. A Ukrainian commander yesterday issued a desperate plea (watch), saying his troops likely had only hours left to live, absent outside intervention. 

 

The focus on Mariupol came as Russia continued to press into the Donbas region. See updates here.

 

More than 5 million people are estimated to have fled Ukraine during the two-month war, with another 6.5 million internally displaced. Poland has taken in nearly 3 million Ukrainians, roughly equal to 8% of its population.

 

See photos of the war's impact on civilians here.

End-of-Life Doc Acquitted

An Ohio jury acquitted former doctor William Husel yesterday on charges he purposefully killed critically ill patients at a Columbus-based hospital by prescribing lethal doses of fentanyl and other painkillers during end-of-life care. The defense argued the dosing practices provided comfort care for dying patients, and no maximum dose is considered illegal under Ohio law. The prosecution argued the high doses—up to 10 times the standard dose—were unnecessary and accelerated the deaths.

 

The decision came after a week of deliberations and a jury deadlock Tuesday; Husel faced life in prison for each of the 14 counts. The high-profile trial was one of the biggest against a healthcare professional in US history, with prosecutors calling 53 witnesses and the defense calling only one.

 

Husel, 46, still faces over 10 civil lawsuits. The hospital has paid nearly $17M in settlements to date to the patients’ families.

Sri Lanka's Economic Crisis 

One person was killed and at least a dozen were injured in Sri Lanka after police fired into a crowd of protestors who reportedly were blocking a railway line. The death is the first after weeks of protests in the island nation over the government's handling of a failing economy. Sri Lankans have called for President Gotabaya Rajapaksa and his brother, Prime Minister Mahinda Rajapaksa, to resign amid shortages of cooking gas, fuel, medicine, and food. The Rajapaksas have ignored those calls, though most of the country's cabinet was replaced.

 

Sri Lanka, which has a population of 22 million and sits off India’s southern tip, is on the brink of bankruptcy. It seeks up to $4B from the International Monetary Fund to deal with $25B in debt and high inflation, which reached nearly 19% in March. The IMF has helped Sri Lanka 16 times since 1965. Critics say President Rajapaksa, who took office in 2019, exacerbated the economic crisis by both cutting taxes and boosting spending, effectively draining the government's reserves. 

 

See background on the crisis here.

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IN THE KNOW

 

Sports, Entertainment, & Culture

> Wimbledon bans Russian and Belarusian players from competing in the 2022 tournament (June 27-July 10), including men's world No. 2 Daniil Medvedev and women's No. 4 Aryna Sabalenka (More) | Villanova men's basketball coach Jay Wright makes surprise retirement announcement (More)

 

> A$AP Rocky arrested at Los Angeles International Airport in connection with a November 2021 shooting; the rapper was returning from a trip to Barbados with girlfriend Rihanna (More)

 

> "Rust" production company fined $137K by New Mexico safety agency following an investigation into accidental fatal shooting of cinematographer Halyna Hutchins (More)

Science & Technology

> Pterosaurs were covered in brightly covered feathers, well-preserved fossil find suggests; discovery tightens the link between the flying reptiles and modern-day birds (More)

 

> Brain cells of Alzheimer's patients show higher frequency of DNA mutations, with the changes being distinct from those seen in normal brain aging (More)

 

> Global study finds protected areas vary widely in their ability to protect threatened animal populations, absent targeted management; report likely to impact future conservation planning (More)

Business & Markets

In partnership with The Ascent

> March US existing home sales dropped to lowest level since June 2020; median existing home price is up 15% over last year to record-high $375,300 (More)  

 

> Tesla tops quarterly revenue and earnings expectations, delivers highest margins to date (More) | United Airlines forecasts 2022 profit, expects second quarter to deliver highest revenue in company history amid consumer return to travel (More)

 

> Apple workers at Atlanta store file for a union election in company first (More)

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Politics & World Affairs

> New Jersey Catholic diocese agrees to pay $87.5M to settle sexual abuse claims (More) | UK court rules WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange can be extradited to the US on espionage charges; case heads to UK home secretary for approval (More)

 

> US Justice Department announces criminal charges against 21 people allegedly involved in pandemic-related fraud schemes totaling about $150M (More) | CDC asks Justice Department to appeal federal court ruling that struck down its travel mask mandate (More)

 

> An Arizona wildfire doubled in size to 26 square miles overnight, burning more than 16,000 acres; more than 700 homes have been evacuated (More)

IN-DEPTH

 

The Holdout

New York Times | Stefanos Chen. After a property developer bought a Manhattan apartment building for $70M, one resident refused to budge. Aided by pandemic-era renter protections, the legal battle may drag out for years. (Read)

'The Great Omar'

BBC | Tim Stokes. The lone edition of a lavishly adorned collection of Persian poetry sank with the Titanic. A replacement was incinerated by Nazi bombers, while its patron drowned at an English resort. Would anyone attempt a third reprinting? (Read)

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ETCETERA

 

What to listen to if you want to focus.

 

NASA "holoports" a doctor to space.

 

Parachute demo at baseball game causes Capitol evacuation.

 

Monterey Bay Aquarium finds a new deep-sea jellyfish. (via YouTube)

 

Hugs return to Disneyland.

 

TobyKeith the chihuahua named the world's oldest dog.

 

A close encounter with a bald eagle

 

Baby's first NBA fist bump.

 

Clickbait: Scientists unveil the Oreometer

 

Historybook: RIP American author Mark Twain (1910); HBD Queen Elizabeth II (1926); 100,000 students begin protests at Tiananmen Square (1989); RIP singer-songwriter Nina Simone (2003); RIP musician Prince (2016).

 

"Courage is resistance to fear, mastery of fear—not absence of fear."

- Mark Twain

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